Forbidden/ Journal #10

I am not having much luck with the stories for this week, but I will be sure to update this post if anything changes. So far this is all I’m getting:

Separation Forbidden

Uncle Roger Forbidden

I am having similar misfortune with my own eLit creation. I started building a “choose your own adventure” type story using WordPress. However, because of the design of the piece, I was soon up to 1,400+ slides (granted each slide only had 1-3 words on it). It became too big to load, even on my husband’s gaming computer. I plan to choose a different platform which will let me hyperlink to various physical characteristics instead of using copies of slides. I am at that point where I have what I want to do in my head, but I just need to find a medium to turn it into electronic literature.

Until next time…

Maybe I’ll have better news.

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Book and Volume

Book and Volume was created by Nick Montfort in 2005. This piece is unique because the audience really takes on partial role of writer by giving commands to move the story along. Although the outcome of the story seems to be the same, the path that each reader takes to get there will be different.

This story begins in a dream. The main character, for whom the reader will choose a name at a later point in the story, dreams of being back in school, almost missing the bus, and his mother crawling through the window. He or she then dreams of a sluggish window summoned by a mouse click.

I searched for meaning of these types of dreams on various dream websites. Dreams of being back in school could mean that there is a lesson that you learned in school that you may need to remember. It could mean that you need to learn something in that particular dream. Lastly, it could mean that there is an opportunity to learn something in life that the dream is bringing to your attention. [https://www.dreamscloud.com/en/dream-dictionary/symbol/school]

Dreams of missing the bus could mean that you need to slow down in your waking world. This story, for example, BEGINS taking place at 9:05pm, after the main character takes a short nap. Therefore, there is a good possibility this was the author’s intention for that aspect of the dream. However, dreams about missing the bus could also mean someone is paying so much attention to details that they are missing out on other aspects of their lives. [https://www.auntyflo.com/dream-dictionary/missed-bus]

Dream-meaning.net desribes dreams of a person’s self climbing through the window, but not a family member, such as the mother. When a person dreams of climbing through a window it is said that they are creating their own windows of opportunity, but they wish to keep their endeavors secret until a later time. One could speculate that if a person’s own mother is climbing through the window, maybe she is the one providing the opportunity. However, I am not sure how this translates into Book and Volume because there is no mother in the story. However, the idea of opportunities being opened up is a very real possibility.

The last part of the main character’s dream is a, “Sluggish window summoned by a mouse click.” To me, this part of the dream seems to have moved beyond deep sleep, and into that half-awake phase. The character is not facing an open computer, so it is unlikely that he or she is looking at his or her own computer. Therefore, this part of the dream signals to the reader that the main character is about to wake up.

 

At this point in the story the main character is revealed to be a System Administrator for nWare, who lives in nTopia. The main character, whom the reader still has not named, looks up at the constellations on the ceiling of Pisces, Cetus, Aquarius, and other constellations “without celestial referent.” The main character decides to call these unnamed constellations The Cradle, The Way, and The Burning Book.

Pisces

Pisces is the fishes constellation. “The two celestial fish represent Venus and Cupid in Roman mythology, who transformed themselves into fish in order to escape the monster Typhoon” (constellation-guide.com/).

Cetus

Cetus is the whale constellation. Cetus was the sea monster in the Greek myth about Andromeda. “In the myth the princess was sacrificed to the monster as punishment for her mother Cassiopeia’s boastfulness” (constellation-guide.com).

Aquarius

Aquarius is the constellation whose name means “the water-bearer” or “cup-bearer” in Latin. Aquarius lies in the part of the sky known as “the Sea” because many of it’s constellations bear names related to sea life (constellation-guide.com). The fast that all of these constellations are related has significance later in the story, as we will explore.

 

As the reader lies awake looking at the constellations, they are reminded that the pager still requires attention. This is where the interactive part of the story really begins to take place. If the reader attempts to check the pager immediately, he or she is informed that it’s too dark to see anything. This is when the reader realizes that he or she must give very basic instructions in very basic steps to this computer program telling a story.

Only until he or she has turned on the light will he or she be able to look at the pager. The story itself gives clues as to what directions are able to be used for the next moves. The story describes a set of buttons on the pager, and the reader types in what direction they will give next, which is to press the button on the pager. Directions given in the story follows this format throughout. If the reader does not pick up on the clues to the next direction, the object that needs attention will become more and more obvious. The reader finds the first example of this if they do not answer the pager quickly enough. The buzzing and vibrating gets louder; the print becomes capital and bold. If the reader tries to enter a command that is not available, the story will give a default message about the option not being available yet.

After the reader answers the pager, a message is displayed about servers needing to be reset in a hurry. The reader may try to power on the laptop that is available to check the email, but the option will not be available until you open the laptop. When the reader does so, they finally get to give themselves a name as a character in the story.

The next task will be to walk around town to reset all five servers. The reader will most likely want to draw themselves a map, as I have done here. It is very easy to get lost without it.

IMG_20181120_115140

As the reader walks around town, there are a couple of interesting points to note. One is that the streets are either numbered, or given the name of some sort of fish. This made me wonder if the aquatic constellations in the beginning of the story somehow have a connection to the aquatic street names. The second point of note is that the scenes and objects that the reader encounters on the walk are completely bizarre. For example:

  • “Two men on unicycles, the larger one with a third unicycle over his shoulder, wobble along the street and away.”
  • “Carrie Fisher seems to go out of tune for a moment. Quite suddenly, she’s wearing a slave-girl costume and looking rather surprised.”
  • “An enormous but rather well-behaved gorilla strides to the middle of th area, brandishing what looks like a giant can of Jolt Cola.”

There is also a but which I did not write down and therefore cannot directly quote about Leonard Nemoy looking at you after you have reset one of the servers.

I am sad to say that after resetting the servers I became stuck. There was a point where I was told a very critical internal intensive update had been issued, which I would have to download, compile, and then apply it to all five servers. The story originally states the update will take ten minutes to download and four hours to compile. However, the story then says that was an exaggeration, “It will probably take eight minutes to download and maybe two and a half hours to compile.” After this point is when I became stuck.

My theory about this work, even though I did not get a chance to finish, is that the main character is actually still asleep. Remember the dream about the mom crawling through the window? The main character actually never woke up. I feel like everything from the first time the buzzer rang has been a dream. This would explain the mysterious figures floating around town, as well as the need to download an update that would take four-no-wait-two-and-a-half hours to complete. It would also explain the main characters dream about working too much. Am I right? What do you think? Have you completed the entire map?

~ Sara Faulkner

#elitclass

Storyboarding / Blog 7

Please forgive this VERY rough storyboard as the beginning of what I hope will be a fantastic piece of eLit intended for younger audiences.

first draft storyboard

This eLit piece will teach children exactly what bullying looks like. After substitute teaching for a couple years now, I have noticed many situations where students are bullying, but they don’t know that they are doing it. Most of the time they are simply copying behaviors they have seen elsewhere. I would like to use this eLit piece as a tool to educate students and continue to work towards completely eliminating bullying from our schools.

With Those We Love Alive / Blog 6

With Those We Love Alive by “Porpentine” Charity Heartscape is a Twine Game created in 2014. The piece begins with a left-pointing angle bracket and a number 3, more commonly known as the original heart emoji. A couple of screens later, a message displays that is obviously meant to reassure the audience: “Please remember: nothing you can do is wrong.” The author begins her story by assuring her audience can do no wrong. However, the story very quickly takes a mysterious and dark turn. This reassurance was warranted.

This story is filled with people and objects that make the reader question where, exactly, they are. After exploring, there is a queen who rises out of slime and muck after completing her larval stage. Her doting followers licking the filth off of her skin. The reader is dismissed until further notice. After exploring, there are dead creatures everywhere, including a dead person that is sitting and swinging their legs on the balcony. There are all manner of creepy hybrid creatures in the canal. In the temple, there are jars of ancient arms and hands suspended in green fluid, which are covered in sigils. These items and more lead to a remarkably creepy atmosphere.

One question that I asked myself through reading this piece was why the author is asking readers to write on their skin. I think that this has a lot to do with a quote from the beginning of the story, “Before living this life…”

Before living this life...

Heartscape wants her audience to do more than just experience this story. She wants them to own it, to make it theirs. By asking readers to draw on themselves as the story progresses, she is essentially “branding” them. She also wants her readers to own their decisions within the story, because in life you cannot undo what has been done.

The initial summary that I read  before starting the reading mentions that this story is related to self-harm. I feel as if asking readers to write on themselves brings attention to that issue. The author’s Tumblr page backs up this theory. Some people wrote their sigils on the back of their arms, hands, or legs. However, a large majority of people wrote their sigils on the inside of their wrists, or the inside of their forearm. Is it coincidence that this is also the place where people tend to cut themselves when performing self-harm? I think not. However, thankfully, I did not notice scars from the pictures that were available. I never performed an act of self-harm, but I have a close friend that has struggled with her demons for many years. The dark, grotesque nature of this piece can relate to the dark, lonely feeling of someone who self-harms.

Because of the dark nature of this piece as well as because of the relation to self-harm, my interpretation of this piece is that the main character (for myself, Langloss Azidet) has committed suicide. I feel as if there is strong evidence to support this theory in one particular scene. In this scene, Azidet is standing on the balcony and receives a letter, “from people who share her blood.”

“Why don’t you come home?” It asks. Your choices of answers are only, “Paralyzing Anger” or “Unbearable Longing.” It continues, “We miss our -” However, the letter doesn’t finish as Azidet is expected to release it to the wind or bury it in a chest in the bedroom. To me, this signals that Azidet is no longer living, and has thus committed suicide.

I do have one discussion question, though of course the entire post is only one opinion and of course up for debate.But is there a significance to pink/purple contrast? Why did the author use those colors if she was going to have to go through the trouble of making a color-blind version?  Does it have anything to do with the author’s tumblr account?

#eLitClass

Pieces of Herself / Blog 5

My first instinct in writing about my reflection of Pieces of Herself by Juliet Davis was to write about each item that I had chosen to include in my silhouette. However, upon second thought, I feel as if that is somehow too personal to share with the internet. I tried to choose items that I thought represented myself, like the eye in the bathroom (representing a scrutinizing eye at myself in a private setting), the baby spinning outside (representing my desire to have children someday), and the fire in the oven (representing my love of baking). However, I was disappointed when the items had their own sound files and ended up representing their own ideas, which I did not find until after I added them to my silhouette. Also, once these items had been added to my silhouette, they could not be removed individually. I had to delete everything in order to delete anything.

The eye in the bathroom, when placed on the silhouette, sings the chorus of the song “Naked Eye” by Lucious Jackson. This song seems to be about purifying your life by stripping down to the basics and removing the clutter from your life. The lyrics are, “With my naked eye / I saw all the falling rain / Coming down on me / With my naked eye / I saw all / If I said it all, I could see.” To me, these lines speak about stripping away the excess in life and being washed in clarity. This was not my purpose for originally adding this image to my silhouette. Truth be told, I also know that it is supposed to have something to do with feminism, and I am not sure what that purpose is. However, I enjoyed the message that I believe it is trying to convey.

The baby also plays a song when placed into the silhouette: “Que Sera” by Doris Day. The lyrics say, “When I was just a little girl / I asked my mother, what will I be? / Will I be pretty, will I be rich? / Here’s what she said to me: / Que Sera, Sera / Whatever will be, will be / The future’s not ours to see / Que Sera, Sera / What will be, will be.” I feel as if this song has a very loose connection to a baby, mainly being that a baby’s future is completely open to possibilities. Looking at this from a feminine perspective, it almost seems as if the author is saying that a female child has no control over what her future will be, and that she should simply wait and see what others decide for her. This is not a message that I would have chosen for my own silhouette, because it does not reflect my own personal life. Growing up, I was always told that I could do anything I wanted, as long as I worked my butt off to get there.

Thankfully, the fire in the oven represented exactly what I was expecting, except with a small twist. When the fire is placed into the silhouette, a woman’s voice chimes in, “Some of my favorite things, that I like to make and would probably want to be, would be a pastry from a recipe that my mother-in-law gave me. They’re called, uh, nut-filled butter horns, and it takes ALL DAY to makes these, and you have to do it just right, like Tender Loving Care. Then when you eat these, they just [whispers] melt in your mouth.” The twist was more involved with the fact that the woman seemed to be answering the question, “If you could be any sort of [food/dessert/pastry/etc], what would you be?” This part I could not reallt make sense of, and I would enjoy any discussion for the future.

Brainstrips/Blog 4

Brainstrips is an interesting take on an old concept. In fact, it’s a few old concepts mashed together in an intriguing way. The textual elements of the comic are thought-provoking, in the way that philosophical questions are. For example, even on the cover, the man in the army uniform says, “So this is how you found the Meaning of Life…?” Then girl replies, “I’m sorry, but Richard has the right answers for me!” However, philosophical questions are not necessarily meant to have “right” and “wrong” answers, so where does her response come from? Are Mr. Suit’s answers simply what she wants to hear? Has no one ever told this woman that a healthy debate is good for the heart? (JK, I am not a doctor).

Another textual element that I really enjoyed was the the lines in “Is Color Real?” One character seems to now know that he is in a comic, and the other two are aware. The first character says, “I sense a blackness all around us…” Then the other two point out that it’s the black border on the page of the comic. The first mate point’s out that the captain’s left hand is “breaking the frame.” The comic declares, “Suddenly, a shift in foreground perspective!” as a too-big bird passes by the boat, the oblivious character not realizing that it’s in the foreground. The very last quote is a cute sentiment about thinking outside the box, obviously referring to the panels of the comic.

I honestly was not very fond of the visual effects in the first part of the comic. The shaking of the speech bubbles felt… cheep. That movement did not need to be there in order to advance or enhance the story. It was as if the comic was screaming, “Look, I’m eLit, I promise!” The flashing lights on the boat were cute, but it was a very small part of what the comic was actually about. The sound was essentially just background noise that I muted after the first two panels. I am honestly not even sure if I missed anything in the 2nd and 3rd parts of the comic because I forgot to turn it back on again.

The theme of Brainstrips was consistent thoughout, discussing philosophical questions that aren’t really meant to be answered. If I had more time I would go through the comic a number of times and see if different answers effects the outcome of the quiz, but I have a suspicion that it’s all the same.

Overall I enjoyed this piece of eLit, but mostly for the content and quality of pictures. For me, I probably would have enjoyed it no more and no less if it had been a comic in a physical comic book.

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin/Blog 3

There is, once again, hope for a relationship between myself and eLit thanks to Hobo Lobo of Hamelin by Stevan Živadinović. This comic boasts intriguing imagery, rich language, a classically relevant story line, as well as mechanics that allow the reader to see a 3-D world on a 2-D screen. I was captivated from the very first panel.

Not only is the imagery in Hobo Lobo of Hamelin intriguing, but it is dynamic as well. The art style is newsy, the color purposeful. It starts off mysterious at first, with yellows and pinks that give the audience a glimpse about what kind of town this is. The color then jumps to mostly greens and then blues in the rising action of the story, signifying the carefree life of Hobo Lobo. However, the blue abruptly changes to red in the 3rd strip, after Hobo Lobo had led all the rats to their death. As the story progresses, the mayor can be seen with an increasing amount of red splatter on his body and face.

The language in this story was rich and varied. The opening line was, “Once upon a time, in an age long forgotten because it was somewhat boring and contrived, there was this picturesque hamlet full of God-fearing wholesome people.” The author intrigues his readers with a statement that this was a time that was “boring and contrived” in a place that was “picturesque.” It’s almost as if he’s enticing his readers to keep reading to find out where is the conflict that they know is coming. And in another part of the story, the reader finds basic language such as, “You see, they had all these coked-up rats running around the place, freaking everybody out.” This is more the language that an audience would expect to see from a comic. However, the author continually bouncing back and forth between language forms, with precise timing to emphasize the tone in all the right places.

Hobo Lobo in Hamelin has a story line that is relateable to countless stories before it. We have heard the story time and again of the “nice guy” being taken advantage of by the “bad guy.” However, the story works because it is still relevant. Millions of people around the world break their backs for pennies while those higher up the ladder take the credit and make millions for it. CEOs make more money than they could ever spend while the average retail employee has to work two, three, four, or more jobs just to make ends meet. Reading a story about the same thing happening to someone else brings us comfort that we’re not the only ones, while also hopefully having a happy ending to look forward to… (ahem MR. ŽIVADINOVIĆ) .

Another aspect of this story that makes such an old rhetoric so relateable is the mechanics of the story. This is absolutely my favorite aspect, as well as what makes it eLit. The author manages to create a 3-D effect on a 2-D platform using layers, similar to what you would see on a Broadway stage. The back layers scroll across the screen the slowest, and the front layers the fastest, in order to give the impression that the reader is traveling on a journey with Hobo Lobo. The basic color platform is used in such a way to help the story progress; very basic at first, then more varied later on. Even the sound effects are presented in a scrolling manor. On slide 3, at the beginning of the slide only nighttime sound effects can be heard. Then as you scroll to the right, a playful harmonica increases in volume, leading the rats on a playful march to the unknown. Abruptly, the music changes, as well as the color, to a low church bell and steady low bassoon(?) note, signifying the death of the rats. The scrolling is not the only motion in this piece, however. Most of the slides boast small “slideshows” or single object that have movement. This sparse movement, outside the general side-scrolling, is always used intently in order to emphasize certain objects or feelings. In the first slide, the only object to show movement is the magical crystal ball. At the end of the second slide, Hobo Lobo wipes his hand off on his coat after shaking hands with the mayor. At the end of the third slide, there is a lot of movement which, when paired with the low musical tones, creates a feeling of foreboding for the reader.

This piece of eLit leaves me with only one question… when is the author going to finish?!